Happy Book Birthday Nicola Rendell! Read her exclusive interview with We So Nerdy, plus an excerpt from her latest, MUSTREAD romance, Just Like That!
If you’ve been following WSN over the last eight months, you know exactly when and how Nicola Rendell burst into our erotic romance reading and quickly rose to one of our top go-tos!
Her debut novel, Prof-essed is stunning in every sense of the word…as in, once we started, we couldn’t put it down, even to sleep. And with each subsequent novel (Con-fessed, Hail Mary), Nicola brings even more passionate romance, fantastic humor, compelling drama, and the SEXIEST sexy times. Her writing is almost lyrical, with the ability to weave words into a story that just bulldozes your heart with feels.
So when we got our hands on Nicola’s latest novel, Just Like That, and it swooned us to pieces (of course!), we just had to reach out and ask for an interview. Seriously, how does Nicola do this, time and time again?!
You know we’re always going to share the goodies with you, so we have our full interview with Nicola Rendell below. She tells us about her broader thoughts on the romance genre, what she’s currently reading, and the project she has in the works.
As an added bonus, we have an excerpt from Just Like That for you, which is out today and so MUSTREAD!
Many thanks to Nicola Rendell (Happy Book Birthday!), Keyanna Butler (for linking us with Nicola), and Ardent Prose (for the excerpt and review copy).
(P.S. Look out for our 5+++ Star review of Just Like That, coming tomorrow!)
1. You’ve written in the Ivy University setting, football sports world, and now small-town USA. Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
I take my inspiration from everywhere I can – from what I read, what I see, and what I watch, from where I travel. Most of all, I am inspired by the story that I would like to experience. For instance, I wrote Just Like That in the middle of a New England winter, and so I knew I’d enjoy spending time on a beach in Florida. I have had a lot of experience with Ivy League universities, so that was a natural starting point for me. I did my undergrad at the University of Chicago, so Lincoln Park was somewhere fun to spend a few months after having been away for a while. I grew up in New Mexico, so I knew that’s where Lucy and Vince would go. I think that writers are blessed to have an infinite variety of places to explore. Writing is a lot like traveling – you just have to choose where you wish to go.
2. You write such a wide variety of heroes: professor, ex-con, pro football player, and private investigator. Which one did you love writing most?
I have to say that they are all tied for first place. I adore them all. I can’t play favorites with my guys ?
3. After reading Prof-essed, Hail Mary, and Just Like That, you are our go-to for lust/love at first sight! What do you enjoy most about using this type of meet-cute in a storyline?
I think the first-encounter story line is extremely sexy. There is something explosive about that initial passion, and something subversive about the notion that you can fall hard, fast, and passionately in a relatively short period of time. That does not mirror real life—it is a fantasy made real. That said, I’m currently working on a friends-to-lovers story which is really fun. There too there is a newness that I find very alluring. I have found that I am not very good at writing enemies-to-lovers; they must be passionate and adoring from the first.
4. Do you have a playlist that gets you in the writing mood or one specifically for those steamy scenes you *nail*. 😉
Ha! Sometimes I write to music and sometimes I don’t. Usually for the sex scenes, I don’t have music playing because it requires such intense focus. But sometimes before I sit down to get dirty, I’ll listen to something like “Hunger” by Sam Sure or “Fog” by Jabberwocky.
5. What are you reading right now and who do you count among your favorite romance writers?
Right now, I am not reading any romance because I need to cleanse my palate. The last romance I read was A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart, which I adored. Now, I am on a non-fiction bender: I’m reading Flanders’ The Victorian City, which is just fabulous. At the same time, I am also rereading The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea. As for romance, some of my favorites are Alex Lucian, Jessica Hawkins, Jana Aston, Skye Warren, Staci Hart, and Pam Godwin. One of my go-to erotica writers is the late Anaïs Nin. Nobody got filthier than she did.
6. Lately, there’s been a lot of criticism (bashing) of romance as a genre and romance readers. As a writer, what do you find most appealing about erotic romance stories?
I don’t think the present moment is particularly unique in that regard. Romance has always been criticized, perhaps more than any genre. It’s important to note too, however, that it also has the largest market share by a factor of two, as has long been the case. People like to slam the genre for being formulaic, but all genres are formulaic. Storytelling is, by definition, formulaic. It’s an art form, and thus there are expectations in structure. If you disobey those rules, you infuriate your reader. That’s as true in crime fiction, which I also write, as it is in romance. In any genre, you have certain leeway and permissions, but a really good story—regardless of genre—will adhere to certain rules. As for what I find appealing, I think that love and sex are the most fundamental parts of human life. Love stories are human stories. But love stories are not simple.
7. What projects are coming up for you in 2017? Do you see any mafia or Regency era heroes in your future?
I would love to write Regency! It’s one of my favorite sub-genres of romance. As for mafia, we’ll just have to see! Right now, I am working on a friends-to-lovers romance that will release over the summer.
Read an excerpt from Nicola’s newest title Just Like That below. (You can also read the first chapter of the book HERE.)
In my shopping cart, I’ve got assorted gifts: a box of wine, like I saw in her fridge; every kind of salt-and-vinegar potato chips they sell; a box of Dots; some Kama Sutra warming massage oil because I couldn’t fucking resist.
And that just leaves one more thing.
I put my basket down by a display of cupcakes and clear my throat. “I need to get something written on a cake.”
The baker turns around. She pulls her hairnet off her head and says, “I’m leaving for the night, sir. I can take your order, but it’ll have to be for tomorrow.”
This part can’t wait. Penny needs to know I’m not sleeping on this. She needs to know I listened to every single thing she said—every last detail, every last word.
I lean forward, putting my hands on the curved glass case. I glance at the baker’s nametag and then look her in the tired, baggy eyes. “Jacquie. It’s urgent. I fucked up, and I need to apologize.”
“The bait shop has some nice carnations. Usually.”
“Already tried that. Didn’t take.”
She gives me a stern stare, like if the blue carnations didn’t do it, I must really be in the shit.
She inhales long and hard, pursing her lips tight. “I’ve got my bowling group in twenty minutes.” She points backward toward the freezers, and I see a turquoise bowling shirt hanging on the back of a door. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t have time.” She starts undoing her apron, which is a smudgy, colorful explosion of frostings. “Like I said, come back tomorrow. I’ll be glad to do whatever you’d like then.”
I pull out my wallet and open the billfold. “I’ll pay your overtime. I’ll pay your lane fees. I’ll buy you a new goddamned pair of bowling shoes. Whatever you want.” I put a fifty on the counter, next to the crumbly remains of some free cookies. “I just need a cake, tonight, with a message written on it.”
She looks at the money and then back at me.
“Jacquie. We’re talking about…” What the hell are we talking about? Chemistry? Sparks? That feeling in my gut that I’ve never felt before? Happiness? No, it’s more than that, and there’s only one word for it. “Love, Jacquie. We’re talking about love.”
Holy fuck. As soon as I say it, I know it’s true. Just a few days with Penny and I’m saying the word I’ve never said before—the one I never thought I’d ever say at all.
She lowers her nose, crumpling her chin into her throat. “Love?”
“Love. Like love-at-first-sight, different-planet, just-like-that love.”
She sighs hard, considering the cash. And then finally she untangles her hairnet from her palm, slipping it over her crunchy curls. “Five minutes. Pick out your cake. I’ve only got time for writing, though. No extra flowers. No balloons. No decoration. No sprinkles. We’re clear?”
“Jacquie, you’re a life saver,” I say, and pull a small round cake, decorated with pink roses, from the display shelf below. I slide it across the bakery case as she reties her apron. Then she takes a pad of paper and hands me a pen.
“Print what you want. Nice and clear. No cursive. I’m not letting one of my cakes become a hashtag bakery fail, all right?” She puts on a pair of plastic food service gloves and pops the lid off the cake. She sets it on a pedestal to the left of the register.
I pick up the pen and look at the blank pad, thinking about what I want to say and how.
It isn’t Shakespeare. It’s the truth. Six words does the job. When I’m finished, I put the pad on the other side of the case. “There.”
Her gloves crinkle as she reads it, and then she recoils a little. She gives me a shame on you shake of her head. “Sir, this is a family establishment. I can’t write that on a cake.”
I pull another fifty out of my wallet. “How about now?”